XR 600 compared to XR 650R

Okay, I know this has probably been asked a bunch, but I did a search, and really couldn't come up with much.

How does the later model XR600's stand up against the newer XR650R? The dry weight is about the same, the 650 has obviously more power, watercooling, etc.....but how much difference in the handling and torque?

The reason I ask, is that I just ran across what I think is a pretty good deal on a 2000 XR650R, and I'm trying to justify the extra 2 grand spent on it, versus the 600

Feedback please...anyone...

Personally I had a 98 XR600 which I really liked until I rode my friends 2000 xr650r. Way better power, and way better handeling. A good handleing comparison is riding in sand. The 600 kinda plows and wants to kinda knife in the corners. The 650 floats over the sand compared to the 600 and corners much better. Also the 650 tracks much better in rough stuff. I am not trying to knock the guys with 600's, just telling the truth. Needless to say I traded in my 600 on a 650 as fast as possible.

I ride an 96 XR-600 that I like very much. I also have a few friends with the XR-650. The 650 when set up correctly makes ridicules low end power, has up dated suspension and ergonomics and overall dose everything a little better than the XR6. However the last time I went riding we lost one 650 to a leaking counter shaft seal and one that couldn’t keep it’s coolant in the radiator. Is the XR6 a better bike, no way, but it may last longer on a given day being air cooled and with proven reliability.

I really don't see how there is any comparison. The quickest way to decide this one is "which bike would you rather have for the same money?" If it's a unanimous answer pro the 650R, which it will be, then there really isn’t a question.

Hey, this is new Honda technology and in 10 years this will be old tech just like the old fart 600’s. That how it go.

Don’t for a minute imply that there are reliability issues with the 650R or that the 600 will last longer. A correctly setup 650R won’t overheat or blow cs seals and will absolutely leave the 600 in the dust any place, any time.

Same weight, 20 more horsepower and instant wheel lifting torque in a better, modern package. What was the question?

00 650R

Generally the reason that a 650r would boil over is because it needs a valve adjustment, and they dont need them often. The 600 can get hot but of course no radiator to boil.


It is all in what you want. I have a 96' 600 that was long payed for. When the 650's came out i started licking my chops for one, but i considered what i would have in one as a bone stock bike and what i could invest as mods into the old 600 that was payed for. This question swayed me to making the mods to the engine and suspension of my 600 and still came out way cheaper than a stock 650.

As for Malcom you better be careful of what you say about the 600's because not all 600's are actually 600's! and it sure would be imbarrasing to get stomped by one!!

You can can put a good rider on a Sh*t bike and he can make it look like a great bike, but if you put a sh*t rider on a great bike more than likely will cost you a trip to the ER! long story short; performance is not everything!

As for reliability on the 600 all i ever changed that had to be changed was oil, chains and sprockets!!

Not knocking the 650's at all, but also consider, in order to get one dialed in to rider specs and ability will also take a little cash to set it up right.

[ April 13, 2002: Message edited by: mr660 ]

Thanks for all of the input. I'm calling around this weekend, to look at one pretty slick 96' XR600 (already dualsported), and two XR650's (all of the mods, + pipe and extras, but no dualsport kit...and $2000 more than the XR600 and I still have to add the $410 BD dualsport kit, and DOT tires, and get it inspected for registration).

I figure either way, I can't really go wrong, as I will have a pretty good bike per dollar spent either way I go...that's a pretty good situation to be in eh?...hahaha. I gotta tell you though, I'm getting this bike to take overseas, to a not-so-modern area of the world, so simplicity and durability are at the top of my list, so I'm leaning towards the proven XR600. Parts availabilty will be a big issue with me over there, so if anybody has any input as to what spares I might need for a XR600, please let me know. I think I can give up a bit of horsepower and handling traits for 2 grand...that buys a lot of gas, tires, chains and sprockets....8^)

Thanks again for all of the help. This site is an incredible source of good information, as you get so many different views, and in my opinion, much more honest answers that you get anywhere else. Advice from the masses is a valuable thing. What can I say?...you guys are the sh*t!!!

With either bike consider a SRC fork brace at the top of your mods list.

After that, for spare parts make sure you have extra levers for either bike you purchase. The weight of the larger bikes takes it toll on the levers if you lay them down.

Other than that, get a 10 pack of oil filters before you go.

What this topic really highlights is how gooder bike the XR600 was-and still is, when it is still reasonably comparable with one of Honda's latest models-even when the basic design of the motorcycle traces back to 1985!! (and recieving sweet F/A in the way of updates since then,bar suspension). It is one of the best motorcycles Honda has ever released.

I had a 98 XR600 and loved the bike until I rode it into the ground. The XR650 fells like a heavy XR400. It's a lot stiffer than the 600. The 600 is like riding a couch easy on the butt. They also have weak transmisions. You only get about 10-15k out of the gears before they need replacing. I had to replace all the gears when I rebuilt the top end. With 20K on the engine the tranny was toast. I heard noise for a year before I had to pull it apart. The 650 will last longer but I don't have one to compare. I went for the electric start.


Get yourself a pair of alluminum hand gaurds with the mounting hardware that mounts the inner end to the upper triple clamp verses on the bars themselves. With these you will wear out your levers and perches before you ever break one. Depending on what terrai you are riding in, I would put inner and outer sealed wheel bearings in. They last a hell of a lot longer than the factory inner open bearings. I second the SRC fork brace and oil changes (Prefer Honda's HP4, 20-50w) Other than those minor parts i have never had to replace any others since 96'!(that is not counting the parts for the mods)

Correct me if i'm wrong but doesnt the 600 weigh a lot less?

Yeah......if you consider 6lbs a lot lighter. :)

Well, as luck would have it, the guy with the 600 sold it an hour before I got to it, and neithe one of the guys with the 650's were home....

I guess I'll keep my eyes peeled and try again next weekend.

Wait, let me get my stories straight...I never got a hold of the guy with the 600, but found out this mornign that he sold it, and one of the 650's was sold before I got to it....(this way Jack doeesn't think I'm lying here...hahaha)

Thanks for info on the exact weight difference. I think it would be cool to own BIG RED but my personal pick would be the 600. First the 600 isnt going to slam your wallet as hard. Also, finding used parts is a lot easier and cheaper for the 600 because it has been around for a while. I should also mention many of the parts fit various years and models. The 600 is also a very proven machine and not as complicated as todays hi-tech toys. Another consideration for me was gas milage. Most my riding is long distance and the 600 sips gas while Big Red is a major gas hog. I really didnt feel like dragging around a 6 gallon tank. My much smaller aftermarket tank gives me a 160 miles range which gets me to most gas stops without worry. I wouldnt worry about comparing performance. Like mentioned above, its all about the rider. I know guys who are scarey fast desert racers and they could beat any rider and wouldnt matter if the other guy even had a works machine. I think its more of a question of having natural talent and honing that talent to perfection. And my last reason for picking the 600 is because i really dont want the 600 or Big Red! I want BIG BAD RED...you know, the one punched out to a 675, magic button electric starter, 40 lbs lighter, fuel injection with great gas milage and has a msrp of a 96 xr 600. Now thats the bike i'm waiting and saving my pennies for.

Slow Poke's assertion that the XR650R is "a major gas hog" is totally wrong based on my experience. I have measured my gas mileage on almost every tank on my '01 XR650R for 10,000 miles through six countries and every tank has been between 50 and 60 mpg, with two tanks at exactly 60mpg. I find this very impressive, especially since many tanks have been at sustained speeds of 80+ mph.

Sixty mpg? I get like, 60 miles per tank, fast paced trail riding.

Gas mileage is dependant on gearing. If you ride fast desert or street with 15/45 gearing you can get 50+mpg.

On my XR600 I could only get 35-40mpg with 14/45 gearing and about 30mpg with 13/48. On my DRZ I get 40 on the trails and 50+ @ 60mph on the street. Now if I were to bump the gearing up to 15/44 I should get about 60mpg.

As far as weight goes the 650 has a lower center of gravity and feels lighter then the 600 until you have to pick it up off the ground that is.

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